Our little town does not have much to offer visitors. So when I saw that our local fish market had expanded and started selling items highlighting our area, I asked them if they’d like me to make up a few things for them to offer. I had made this file into a shirt for my husband last year using an inkjet transfer. I decided it would do well on a flour sack towel with a few changes. This time I used Heat Transfer Vinyl.
I recently purchased a KNK Zing Orbit and am now using Sure Cuts Alot. Being accustomed to Make The Cut, there has been a small learning curve, but for basic cutting I was able to get right at it with no problems.
Set heat press at 335 degrees and press for 17 minutes (for hand iron, refer to manufacturer’s instructions)
Fold towel in half and crease mid-point using iron or heat press
Lay towel flat and use crease to place center HTV
Press vinyl onto towel (Use teflon sheet or towel between iron and vinyl)
Remove clear backing and repeat
I am having fun getting to know my Zing Orbit. So far, one of my favorite features on the Orbit is the ability to adjust the pinch wheels. The ability to move them close enough to cut small pieces of vinyl without using a mat saves me a lot of time, and I find myself using the feature a lot.
If you need an inexpensive screen print, try this DIY screen print process using heat transfer vinyl. Using this process will allow you to clean the screen and re-use.
Since I have branched out into the heat vinyl world, I asked one of my wholesale customers if she would be interested in some of my flour sack towels. She said she’d like to try my Mackinac Bridge design on a towel and see how much interest there is. So I started right away on her small order of towels.
I soon found that the process with the bridge design was too labor-intensive. That’s when I decided to see if it would be more efficient using a DIY screen print process. I had seen this demonstrated on videos using intermediate outdoor vinyl, and decided to create a screen print stencil using heat transfer vinyl instead. This way, the screen could be cleaned and re-used.
In the end, I was not satisfied enough with the results to offer them for sale. However, I believe with more practice, I can get better results with my DIY screen print. And… the process is lots of fun!
Scrap of Sheer Fabric (I re-purposed an old curtain)
Stretched Canvas (or other suitable frame)
Squeegee (a credit card works in a pinch)
Iron or Heat Press
Settings for KNK Zing:
Force – 20
Speed – 9 or 10
Multicut – 2
Remove canvas from frame. I found it easiest to do this by slicing on the back side, close to the staples, with my Xacto knife. This was much easier than pulling all the staples out.
Cut a piece of sheer fabric larger than the size of your frame.
Pull the fabric around frame to back side and staple all the way around, so that it is stretched across the frame in the same way that the canvas was. You want it to be taut.
Create design. Remember that you are making a stencil and will be weeding out the DESIGN portion and using what is left of your rectangle.
Draw a rectangle around your design that is approximately the size of your frame, or a little smaller. You want plenty of blank area around your design.
Cut and weed your vinyl.
Carefully lay your vinyl on the frame’s fabric. You want to press it to the side that will be touching the item you are screen printing.
You may need to fill up the other side of the frame with something before you iron it on or use your heat press. For my frame, it worked to use a BIG stack of printer paper in the open space. Then I carefully placed the stack of paper with the frame placed over it into my heat press.
Heat press the vinyl to the fabric.
Remove carrier sheet from vinyl.
Check to see if there is space around the edge of the vinyl that ink can leak out. If so, use some masking tape to cover it.
Protect the surface you are working on to prevent getting stain on it.
Place item to be painted on your protected surface. I put my towel on an old not-too-sticky cutting mat. That worked out great and was sticky enough to keep the towel from moving around.
You will probably want to practice on something like a scrap of fabric, or old shirt. I used a towel that had a stain on it and did several tries all the way around the towel.
Place your frame, vinyl side down on item.
Spoon out some globs of paint along one end.
Use your squeegee to pull the paint down over your design. This takes some practice. I got different results by how I held the squeegee, how many “passes” I made, how much ink, how fast or slow I moved the squeegee, etc.
There is definitely a learning curve to this so don’t give up if you don’t get satisfactory results the first time. Also, there are some great videos out there of this technique.
I am new to the whole HTV area…. and boy am I having fun with it. I have seen some darling tea towels with heat transfer vinyl in gift shops, and wanted to give it a try myself. So I purchased some inexpensive flour sack towels from my local department store, and some ThermoFlex HTV from KNKusa.com.
Of course I don’t have a heat press, but no worries…. it’s not difficult to achieve good results with a simple iron.
I find that the heat transfer vinyl is really easier to work with in some ways than the outdoor type vinyls, such as Oracal 651. I have been using vinyl for years but still run into frustrations with it sticking to itself when weeding, and I sometimes end up with a big “blob” of vinyl. Because the ThermoFlex Plus I used for this project, is not sticky, I find it much easier to weed. Perhaps that is one of the reasons I may be getting a little carried away with making these cute little towels. (That’s okay though as I’ve been able to sell a few to friends, as well as at craft fairs, and online.) Who can have too many of these cuties anyway!
You’ll need a firm surface to press on. I found that if I put heavy cardboard on my kitchen counter and cover it with a towel, that is just right. (I tried this on my kitchen table, but it was too hot and left marks in the finish…. resulting in an unhappy husband. Oops.)
The manufacturer recommends wiping the surface of the towel with alcohol before applying the vinyl. I have done it both ways and I am not sure whether it helps or not.
You will need to experiment around a bit as far as heat setting, time, and pressure. I have used two different household irons set at the highest setting, and it required a lot of pressure and time. Others online have stated they have used irons that were actually too hot and melted the clear sheet. Oh, and don’t forget to place a piece of fabric between your iron and the transfer sheet.
Before peeling, you should be able to really see the texture of the fabric in the vinyl. If not, continue pressing, making sure to use enough pressure. ( I really have to lean into it sometimes.) I found that I need to let it cool just a bit before peeling. I still have some trouble with the vinyl sometimes wanting to come up a bit when I am peeling. When that happens, I reheat and try again. After I peel off the sheet, I like to place the fabric pressing cloth back down on the vinyl and press again. Then I turn the towel over and press once more from the back side.
I washed one of my towels to see how it would hold up. After machine washing in warm water, I hung it to dry. I expected it to be a bit of a wrinkled mess, but it really wasn’t. The towels I used are very thin and it dried quickly. It was a bit wrinkled, but to me it didn’t detract from it at all. It just kind of made the towel more “fluffy”.
Jingle All the Way!
With the holiday season upon us, surely there is someone on your list that would love a bundle of these! They are fun to make and you can whip up a few in no time at all. If you do, post a picture so we can all see!